Freedom from Doubt is True Faith – November 7, 2010

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“Freedom from Doubt is True Faith”
On the Occasion of the November Kosen-rufu Shodai Ceremony
November 7, 2010
Reception Hall, Head Temple Taisekiji

Good Morning, everyone!

On this occasion of the November Kosen-rufu Shodai Ceremony, conducted here today at the Head Temple, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to the large number of participants in attendance.

The month of November already has come in this “Year of Advancing toward Kosen-rufu.” I imagine the members in each chapter are striving in their practice day and night, aiming toward the achievement of this year’s goal.

I assume you are well aware that this year’s efforts are extremely important for achieving our goals for 2015 and 2021. I sincerely hope that you further will devote yourself to your practice at full force in these remaining two months, so that every chapter will achieve this year’s goal without fail.

The Devadatta (Daibadatta; twelfth) chapter of the Lotus Sutra reads:

In future ages if there are good men or good women who on hearing the Devadatta chapter of the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law, believe and revere it with pure hearts and harbor no doubts or perplexities, they will never fall into hell or the realm of hungry spirits or of beasts, but will be born in the presence of the Buddhas of the ten directions.

(Hokekyo, p. 361-2;
The Lotus Sutra, Watson, p. 185)

The Devadatta chapter of the Lotus Sutra can be divided into two parts. The first half teaches about Devadatta’s attainment of Buddhahood, signifying the attainment of Buddhahood by evil people. The second half discusses the eight-year-old Dragon King’s daughter’s attainment of Buddhahood, indicating the potential for women to attain enlightenment.

The Treatise on the Great Sutra on the Perfection of Wisdom (Dai chido-ron) states that Devadatta was an elder brother of Ananda and a cousin of Shakyamuni. Though he later entered the priesthood and became Shakyamuni’s disciple, he was hostile toward Shakyamuni from an early age. He had a lust for fame and wealth. Due to his arrogant nature, he abandoned the Buddhist practice and committed the five cardinal sins. As a consequence, he fell into hell.

As indicated in “Questions and Answers between a Sage and a Foolish Man” (“Shogu mondo-sho”), the five cardinal sins refer to the five grave offenses in Buddhism: killing one’s father, killing one’s mother, killing an arhat, injuring a Buddha and causing him to bleed, and destroying the harmony among the practitioners. Devadatta committed the five cardinal sins in the following way. First, he manipulated the 500 disciples of Shakyamuni and destroyed the unity among them by taking control of the religious order in his stead. Second, he dropped a boulder on the Buddha, injuring him and causing him to bleed. Third, he convinced King Ajatashatru to release intoxicated elephants among Shakyamuni and his disciples, trying to cause the Buddha to be trampled to death. Fourth, he killed the lay nun Utpalavarna by beating her with his fists. Fifth, he attempted to murder the Buddha with poison on his finger, pretending to worship him. As a result of committing these five cardinal sins, the earth split open, and Devadatta fell into hell alive. As illustrated, Devadatta committed the most serious offenses.

In a previous lifetime, when Shakyamuni was a king, he abdicated his throne to seek Mahayana Buddhism. He met Ashi, a hermit who upheld the mystic Law. For one thousand years Shakyamuni served the hermit, devoting himself to the Buddhist practice, and finally was able to attain Buddhahood. This hermit was a former incarnation of Devadatta. Through this, the Buddha affirmed that Devadatta would attain enlightenment and become Heavenly King Tathagata in the future.

This solely was due to the power of the mystic Law (Myoho). In the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings, the principle of the mutual possession of the ten worlds and ichinen sanzen (three thousand realms in a single life moment) was not yet revealed. Thus, it was said that an evil person could attain Buddhahood only if he eradicated his sins, accumulated good deeds, and was reborn as a good person, or if he eliminated all of his earthly desires. In the Lotus Sutra, however, the principle of the ten worlds and ichinen sanzen was taught, revealing that the superb Buddha nature is inherent in the lives of all people of each of the nine worlds. This enabled those in the world of hell to reach the state of Buddhahood, showing the potential for anyone to attain enlightenment.

“The Doctrine of Ichinen Sanzen” (“Ichinen sanzen homon”) reads:

This teaching does not discriminate against evil people, women, people of the two vehicles, and icchantika. Thus, [the Expedient Means (Hoben; second) chapter of the Lotus Sutra] states that all people attain Buddhahood by carrying out the Buddha way. It also expounds on the Buddha’s profound wisdom, which bestows benefits equally on all living beings. When, upon hearing it, one believes that good and evil are identical, not two; and right and wrong also are not two, then one can attain enlightenment in one’s present state of mind. This is attaining Buddhahood in one’s present form. One can reach this state and ascend to the stage of enlightenment in this very existence. Even those who do not grasp this principle will obtain the Buddha’s boundless wisdom if they chant the Daimoku. Shakyamuni and the other Buddha will rejoice. The sutra states, “I am overjoyed, and so are the other Buddhas.”

(Gosho, p. 110)

The Lotus Sutra expounds the supreme doctrine, which reveals that all people—including Devadatta, who represents evil people, and women—have the potential to attain Buddhahood in their present form, if they uphold faith in the mystic Law (Myoho). In the Latter Day of the Law, the Lotus Sutra refers to Myoho-Renge-Kyo of the Buddhism of sowing of the true cause. The benefits of this supreme teaching of Myoho-Renge-Kyo enabled even Devadatta, who slandered the true Law, to be assured of his enlightenment in his future existences. Likewise, it opened the path for all living beings to attain Buddhahood.

As the passage from the Lotus Sutra teaches, however, it is of paramount importance to revere the Buddha with a pure heart and believe in him with absolutely no doubts.

There is an expression that says, “Freedom from doubt is true faith (mugi wasshin).” When we apply this to our faith and practice, taking absolute faith in the Dai-Gohonzon and having no doubts is the most important point for the attainment of Buddhahood.

The “Orally Transmitted Teachings” (“Ongi kuden”) teaches:

Ichinen sanzen is based on the single character “faith.” The attainment of Buddhahood of all the Buddhas of the three existences arises from the single character “faith.” A sword that extirpates the fundamental darkness is the single character “faith.” Believing and understanding with no doubts is the sword that severs one’s doubts and delusions.

(Gosho, p. 1737)

Absolute faith in the Dai-Gohonzon—faith based on freedom from doubt—is the major factor that determines one’s attainment of Buddhahood. In the Latter Day of the Law, common mortals without the seed of Buddhahood are able to attain enlightenment only after upholding such faith.

The Daishonin teaches in “Reply to Shijo Kingo” (“Shijo Kingo dono-gohenji”):

One’s mind is the most important thing. No matter how sincerely Nichiren offers prayers, if one harbors doubts, it is like trying to start a fire on wet tinder. Summon up your power of faith and devote yourself to your practice.

(Gosho, p. 1407)

No matter how boundless the benefits of the Dai-Gohonzon may be, if the practitioner harbors doubts about the Gohonzon and offers Daimoku with uncertainty, he will not be able to receive profound benefits. In other words, no matter how great the power of the Buddha and the power of the Law of the Gohonzon may be, if we lack the powers of faith and practice, our prayers will not be answered.

The Parable (Hiyu; third) chapter of the Lotus Sutra teaches that even Shariputra, who was known as the foremost in wisdom, attained Buddhahood not because of his intelligence and knowledge, but due to his pure faith. The sutra expounds that faith is the only key for the attainment of Buddhahood.

Our attainment of Buddhahood is determined by absolute faith in the Dai-Gohonzon. Thus, it is essential that we continue to practice with strong faith. This “faith,” however, should not be limited only to one’s own faith. It must be faith for both oneself and others. The Daishonin teaches in “On Practicing According to the Buddha’s Teachings” (“Nyosetsu shugyo-sho”):

The first five-hundred-year period of the Latter Day of the Law is the time to propagate only the Lotus Sutra, the perfect and true teaching. This period is the age of conflict, when the pure Law has been lost and the provisional teachings and the true teaching are in disorder. If one faces enemies, he must be armed with swords, and bows and arrows. If there are no enemies, weapons like bows and arrows are useless. In this age, the provisional teachings have become the enemies of the true teaching. In the era when the one vehicle of Buddhahood is to be propagated, the provisional teachings are the enemies. If there is confusion, you must refute the errors [of the provisional teachings] from the viewpoint of the true teaching….Now in the Latter Day of the Law, who will propagate the Lotus Sutra and practice according to the Buddha’s teachings? Fear not those in the secular world. Conduct shakubuku and refute both the person and the Law of the heretical teachings. Loudly proclaim that the Lotus Sutra is the only teaching that will lead the people to Buddhahood, and that the various other teachings are the root cause of falling into the hell of incessant suffering.

(Gosho, p. 672)

Even Devadatta, who committed the five cardinal sins, was able to attain enlightenment due to the great benefit of the mystic Law (Myoho). It is most essential for us, the disciples of Nichiren Daishonin, to share the great benefits with others, who suffer from the three poisons of greed, anger, and stupidity. We must lead more people to the correct path of faith. This is the faith for both oneself and others, which fulfills the will of the founder Nichiren Daishonin.

Even in daily life, it is not possible for us to become happy alone, just by ourselves. The Rissho ankoku-ron reads:

If you truly desire your own peace and security, should you not first pray for peace of the entire nation?

(Gosho, p. 249;
Gosho of Nichiren Daishonin,
vol. 2, p. 40)

“The entire nation” refers to all the four directions of north, south, east, and west and means the entire world. “Peace and security” refers to a safe and peaceful society. If we wish for our own peaceful and secure life, we must wish for the world to become safe and peaceful. In a narrow sense, “the world” means one’s household or his own surroundings. In a broad sense, it refers to a society, the whole country, or the entire world. We form a close relationship with our surroundings. For example, if a war occurs, an individual’s happiness will be ruined. Unless peace and security of the world is established, the happiness of each individual cannot be realized. The Daishonin teaches:

He should first and foremost put an end to the slanders that prevail throughout the country.

(ibid., p. 35)

As taught in this passage, it is crucial to eliminate all slanders from evil causes throughout the country. This is because misfortune, suffering, and confusion are all due to the poison of slander against the true Law. This warning clearly was expressed by the Daishonin in his Rissho ankoku-ron.

“Put an end to the slanders,” means to do shakubuku. True happiness lies in being aware that your own happiness is tied closely to the happiness of the entire world. True happiness is based on striving to practice for the attainment of Buddhahood for both yourself and others. Each individual must realize the importance of shakubuku and the profound benefits of doing shakubuku, and devote oneself to propagate the mystic Law (Myoho).

Looking at the condition of the world in recent years, one can see how chaotic the situation has become. The people’s minds are extremely muddled due to the poison of slander. I truly believe that we must do shakubuku with our heart and soul, so that as many people as possible will discard heretical teachings, the cause of unhappiness, and take faith in the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching. The realization of everyone’s happiness and world peace is our profound wish.

Based on the principle of the Rissho ankoku-ron, each of us now must earnestly do shakubuku, aiming toward the realization of kosen-rufu. This is the appropriate practice for the “Year of Advancing toward Kosen-rufu.”

I sincerely pray that you will further devote yourselves to your practice during the remaining two months of this “Year of Advancing toward Kosen-rufu,” aiming toward the achievement of your goals. •